The trails have thawed, there is a break in the clouds, and the lineup of centuries are quite literally right around the corner. We have a new and exciting season ahead of us and in accordance, my winter hibernation from writing has come to completion.
Today’s weather was a spring preview of sorts and the perfect time to hop out on the trails and pound the pavement. With a couple different agenda’s on our minds our team chose to divide and conquer the greater Sacramento area. While a few of us chose to hit the trails and join the cycle folsom’s sunday ride, one brave rider felt it was time to conquer the climbs that surround (wholesome) folsom lake.
The bike trail was packed today. Cyclists, runners, walkers, joggers, and pretty much everyone else that had heard about the path were out. Naturally we all felt that we owned the pavement but through collaboration we managed to share somewhat gracefully. As for the riding, the Cycle Folsom guys have a good thing going. It was my first time out with them but they had a couple ride leaders that were accessible to all. They had set up the expectation of two separate groups, so one could be as aggressive as they chose without leaving others behind. And on the other side of the coin, the secondary group could ride comfortably and enjoy the challenge of the ride and the beauty of the trails in spring without the pressure of an alpha group pushing them past their comfort level.
Team road rash chose to head out of the gate with the lead group and it was awesome. With a short warm-up period the pack quickly exited the parking lot of Karen’s Bakery in downtown folsom and found an aggressive pace, following each other through the brisk morning air. With each member of the peloton taking their turn at the lead, our healthy pack was able to maintain a speed ranging between 22 and 25 mph as we made our way to Discovery park.
As explained at the outset, there would be a chance to rest for a second and refill water bottles at William Pond Park (the bathrooms there are immaculate… Ok, inside jokes translate terribly on blogs. my apologies). As we made our way there it became clear that our group had been labeled competitive for a reason. As we neared arrival, a small divide in the group showed itself. What’s more, two in that lead group shared matching jerseys. Well that was enough to send everyone into a frenzy. Apparently, hitting each checkpoint first doles out some major bragging rights. Suddenly, with maybe a mile and a half left till the water break, the ride took on a new quality. Riders chased the gap, position changed hands, nervous chatter assessed the situation, and eventually bragging rights were earned as the cyclists stormed over the bridge toward the park.
After a quick sip of water and a second to stretch the legs we were soon on our bikes again headed toward downtown Sacramento. We spent a couple brief miles riding in pairs but the combination of the traffic on the trails and our need to throw down the hammer drove us quickly into a single file line with a serious slip stream. At this rate it didn’t take long to close in discovery especially when Steve took the lead and drove the team down the path at a furious pace. Apparently he’d taken 3rd in Snelling the day before, but you’d never have known it by the way he was turning the crank. Once again, as we neared our destination teammates became competitors and all began jockeying for position. After a couple quick bursts of speed, I was content to let the top four battle it out, which they certainly did.
Once stopped, we took on some food, had another drink and made our decisions on what pace to take back. The most competitive of the group carried on after a few minutes and undoubtedly raced home without skipping a beat. However, about half the group decided to wait a few more minutes for the peloton group to arrive and rode home at a more casual pace. That is where we found ourselves and we certainly enjoyed the ride home. In all, it was an awesome day out there. The weather was perfect, the company was good, and the ride was fast. We’ll definitely be back out there with the cycle folsom folks. What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
While we were cruising the flats, our teammate Branigan set out on a ride of a bit more intense nature. With next weekend’s century rapidly approaching he chose to immerse himself in a day of climbing.
The folsom lake loop runs up green valley road, takes you along salmon falls rd, meets up with hwy 49, and shoots you down folsom auburn road to provide riders with a complete lap around folsom lake. It is full of some serious climbs and incredible views. Riders should be aware of traffic, but if you’ve factored this in, the ride will not disappoint.
Armed with his touring bike branigan took on all 4400′ and returned home with some great pictures as evidence of his journey. While there were far less riders on his route, he managed to make a couple of friends along the way. As we arrive in (hopefully sunny) San Diego for the SD Gran Fondo next weekend he will certainly have the edge of some extra climbing time but we should both manage.
It was a great week to ride. We found a couple new rides to frequent and met some cool new folks as a result. Cycling season is back! Ok, for the hardcore riders it was never gone. The rides and the posts will only get more frequent from here on out. So check in with us here, join us on the trails, enjoy the ride reviews as they come in (we have a very full season ahead), and contact us if you’ve got something to say. We always look forward to meeting more riders in the area and getting in better touch with the local scene.